Despite new role, Talbot eyes more production

slideshow-020813-flyers-talbot-uspresswire.jpg

Despite new role, Talbot eyes more production

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Scott Hartnell is sidelined with a foot injury.

Wayne Simmonds has been out with a concussion, though he’s expected back Saturday against Carolina.

Jaromir Jagr, well, he’s playing in Dallas.

There’s three reasons why the Flyers' goal production is so awful this season with just a puny 25 goals in 11 games. Their goal differential is minus-5.

There’s more to it than that, too.

Max Talbot had a career year in 2011-12 with personal highs in goal scoring (19) and points (34).

In a shortened 48-game season, no one is expecting any player in the NHL to match their previous totals.

Yet, in Talbot’s case, it’s hard to score when you’re not getting shots.

Unless your Tommy Sestito -- two shots, two goals in the same game. There are only so many Sestito’s in the world.

Anyway, Talbot has just 10 shots through 11 games. In six of them, he had just one shot. That's not going to get it done. He has just three assists this season.

“My shooting percentage was higher last year,” Talbot said.

His line and role were different, as well. He played with Jakub Voracek much of the season with a different winger on the other side.

Right now, he’s with Brayden Schenn and Voracek in a mostly checking role.

“There’s no real reason,” Talbot said. “I just got to work harder in front of the net and get some shots and rebounds.”

He doesn’t think it has anything to do with making a conscious effort to shoot more. In reality, he is shooting slightly less than last season when he averaged 1.4 shots a game. He probably would have more shots and more scoring chances in a different role.

“Before I had 19 goals, I had 13 [in Pittsburgh],” Talbot said. “That’s not why the Flyers signed me -- to score some goals.”

Indeed, when Talbot returned to Pittsburgh last season, Pens coach Dan Bylsma kidded him about becoming a goal scorer once he left the Penguins.

The thing is, the Flyers need more goals. Talbot is a guy capable of delivering even though his role is that of a defensive centerman and wing, not to mention an outstanding penalty killer.

“There’s no reason for this. I’m going to put my head down and keep working,” he said.

Coach Peter Laviolette has Talbot’s back.

“He’s used in a little bit different role this year,” Laviolette said. “He’s more on a straight checking line. Right now we need Max at center. The role might be a little different for him.

“That’s not to say he’s not getting chances or opportunities, but I think he’s done a nice job for us. He provides a lot of energy.”

Does he need to shoot more?

“I answered this a few days ago and I want to make sure it is not misconstrued this time,” Laviolette replied. “Max is having a good year. Offensively, there is room for improvement from all of our guys.

“We’re not scoring enough in general. The power play can be a little more effective, though it seems to have found some goals the last four or five games. Five-on-five, I think we’re getting better.

“We’re down in the offensive zone. There is sustained zone time that looks more like our identity and attack. But there’s probably a lot of players who fit in the category you’re putting Max in that they probably want to contribute more.”

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jordan Weal participated in the Flyers' full practice Tuesday at Skate Zone but will remain out of the lineup against Washington on Wednesday with an apparent concussion.

He was nailed in Edmonton by Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba. The hit in the corner came at 13:57 of the opening period.

Video replays show Gryba sandwiched Weal hard on the boards with Weal striking his head and right shoulder, then falling to the ice. Actually, Gryba hit him earlier in the period as well, but it was the second hit that seemed to go the most damage. 

Weal said both he and trainer Jim McCrossin agreed it was better to not return to the game after the second hit.

“He kind of drove me in pretty good there,” Weal said. “It’s a hockey play, though. Not much you can do.” 

The Flyers are being cautious with the head injury.

Coach Dave Hakstol was vague as to when Weal would re-enter the lineup. Weal had just been called up last week to replace Travis Konecny, who was placed on IR.

“I feel good,” said Weal, who took extra practice on Tuesday. “It definitely has been progressing every day. ... I’m day-to-day and as soon as I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

“It’s one of those injuries you just have to take your time with. I think when I feel I’m ready to play, I’ll be in.

“It’s frustrating. But it’s part of the game. With these injuries, it’s tougher than if it was, say your finger or your shin or something where you could put ice on it and get it better. You just have to treat it right and get back as quick as I can.”

Gudas’ departure
Defenseman Radko Gudas left early during what was a brief but long-delayed 45-minute practice on Tuesday.

What was noteworthy about Gudas’ departure, however, was that he picked up his gear and headed back to the dressing room while both trainers remained on the bench.

So he wasn’t injured.

Immediate speculation was that he might have been traded. An hour later, general manager Ron Hextall announced Gudas had had a dentist appointment to fix a broken tooth, incurred during the recent road trip.

Needless to say, Gudas’ leaving blew up Twitter with trade rumors.

Lower, lower body
Jake Voracek took a shot below the belt and couldn't stand for a few minutes near the end of practice. He remained in obvious pain in the dressing room and did not talk … as if he could.